Vietnam's transport ministry has taken over management of 13 aid-funded projects from the state railway corporation following the conclusion of a lengthy bribery scandal.
News website VnExpress reported Monday that minister Dinh La Thang has signed a decision that will make the ministry the direct manager of 13 major projects being managed by Vietnam Railways, the country’s state-owned railway operator.
Funded with official development assistance (ODA) from Japan, China and France, the projects are reportedly worth millions of dollars each.
Seven are already under construction; the rest remain in the planning stages.
The move took place after Japanese prosecutors in mid-July pressed charges against a Tokyo-based consultancy company and three of its executives for allegedly bribing Vietnamese officials to win contracts funded by Japanese ODA.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported that the suspects, including Tamio Kakinuma, 65 -- the former president of Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. -- were charged with providing tens of millions of Yen to officials of Vietnam Railways.
Kyodo News cited a report released in April by JTC’s outside panel of lawyers announcing that JTC had paid around 160 million Yen (US$1.58 million) in kickbacks to officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan between February 2008 and February of this year.
In Vietnam alone, the officials involved allegedly received 80 million Yen ($782,000) for a Japan-funded urban highway project worth 4.2 billion Yen in Hanoi.
Vietnam has suspended scores of implicated officials and arrested six people, including Tran Quoc Dong, deputy general director of Vietnam Railways.
The scandal prompted the Japanese government to suspend new ODA funding to Vietnam in early June.
But Tokyo resumed all aid in late July on the condition that Vietnam commit to investigating all ODA projects involving JTC and Vietnam Railways and pledge specific measures to stop future graft.